August 01, 2016 - 8:00 PM
A Canadian sailor celebrated for two solo voyages around the world and years of passionate charitable work has reportedly died.
Derek Hatfield, who in 2003 became the 126th person to sail around the globe alone, died at the age of 63, his wife, Patianne Verburgh, confirmed to CBC.
In a statement, friend and fellow sailor Eric Holden told The Canadian Press that Hatfield "was an inspiration to follow one's dreams and not be deterred despite what seemed insurmountable challenges."
"He achieved what many sailors only dream of, in a world that many Canadians are unaware even exists," Holden said.
Hatfield, a native of Newcastle, N.B., set off from Newport, R.I., on the Around Alone race in September 2002.
Piloting the "Spirit of Canada," a 12-metre sailboat he built with friends and family, Hatfield sailed 28,700 nautical miles in nine months to achieve his goal of cirvumnativating the globe.
The journey was not an easy one.
In early March 2003, as he rounded Cape Horn off the southern tip of South America, Hatifeld's boat was flipped several times by hurricane-force winds and massive waves.
''I didn't have any time to think. I was just trying to survive. I was going on pure adrenaline,'' Hatfield told The Canadian Press at the time.
With his mast snapped into three pieces, Hatfield piloted the Spirit of Canada for 30 hours before reaching shore in Ushuaia, Argentina.
It took him nearly a month to repair the boat, but Hatfield stayed in the race and on May 31, 2003, he pulled back into Newport, finishing tenth overall and first in his class.
Hatfield completed the around-the-world solo race again a second time in 2011.
That same year, Hatfield began working with the Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Leaders, a Toronto-based charity that teaches at-risk youth to sail.
As an honorary director of the board, Hatfield worked passionately to promote the sailing program, said Marguerite Pyron, executive director of the charity, in an interview Monday.
"He would meet with potential supporters and talk about the value of developing confidence in youth who normally have very little opportunities accessing this type of activity," Pyron said.
"Derek and us were (sending) a message to close that gap and, so to speak, democratize access to the sport."
Pyron described Hatfield as a kind, unpretentious man who dreamed of exploring new places.
"He was warm, he was genuine. He had an open heart," she said.
Hatfield graduated from Toronto's York University with a degree in Administrative Studies before joining the RCMP in 1971. In 1986, Hatfield was hired by the Toronto Stock Exchange to manage a team of auditors.
At the time of his death, Hatfield lived in Nova Scotia.
Calls by Canadian Press to his family were not immediately returned.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016